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Submission + - US rolls out Internet identity plan (

RareButSeriousSideEf writes: "FTA: At a US Chamber of Commerce event today, the federal government rolled out its vision for robust online credentials that it hopes will replace the current mess of multiple accounts and insecure passwords. The choice of the Chamber of Commerce wasn't an accident, either; the government wants to squelch any talk of a "national Internet ID card" and emphasize that the plan will be both voluntary and led by the private sector.

[...] Users can choose how many credentials they acquire, what information is contained in each, and how much information is revealed at login.

[...] Public meetings on NSTIC begin in June, and NIST hopes to be funding pilot projects by 2012. Still, ordinary Internet users won't be able to use the system for three to five years."

Submission + - The Fight against Intellectual Property (

RareButSeriousSideEf writes: Does IP run counter to contract law? Might it violate property rights? Jacob H. Huebert (author of Libertarianism Today) examines these questions:

When the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wins a $1.92 million verdict against a 32-year-old Minnesota woman for sharing 24 songs online, is that good for liberty? When Disney and other big media companies got Congress to extend copyright protection for Mickey Mouse (and everything else) far into the future, should libertarians have cheered? When a patent-holding company threatened to shut down the Blackberry network unless Blackberry's creator paid it hundreds of millions in licensing fees, was this a win for property rights, or was it just extortion?

Submission + - Is Regulation the Path to Ending Net Neutrality? (

RareButSeriousSideEf writes: Judd Weiss reminds us of some stated goals of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and illustrates what this could mean if the FCC assumes regulatory control over the internet:

Genachowski: "And this principle will not constrain efforts to ensure a safe, secure, and spam-free Internet experience, or to enforce the law. It is vital that illegal conduct be curtailed on the Internet. As I said in my Senate confirmation hearing, open Internet principles apply only to lawful content, services and applications — not to activities like unlawful distribution of copyrighted works, which has serious economic consequences. The enforcement of copyright and other laws and the obligations of network openness can and must co-exist."

The article continues, "The FCC needs to survive. It starts regulating ISPs to impose Net Neutrality and ensure that they don’t prioritize content. The FCC makes exceptions for spam. Obviously it’s ok for the ISPs to restrict spam. Soon, under pressure from Homeland Security, the FCC begins monitoring and censoring illegitimate online content, such as Wikileaks. They assure us they aren’t here to censor the Internet, as long as the content is legitimate. Then the FCC, under pressure from major media conglomerates, forces ISPs to restrict access to pirated material. The ISPs complain that the burden is just too large for them to monitor and track pirated material. That’s quite alright, because the FCC will help with that too. They can hire a bunch of bureaucrats (at our expense) to simply monitor and censor only pirated material “with a light touch“. Then it comes to be one day soon that it only takes a 3-2 ruling for the FCC to start censoring pornographic and other objectionable content, without needing a public vote. Like with TV and Radio, children need to be protected, and a large portion of the public want this protection. The religious right and politically correct left have found common ground."

Submission + - Level 3 Denounces Comcast ‘Toll’ On In ( 1

RareButSeriousSideEf writes: An interesting wrinkle today in the debate over net neutrality and broadband content accesss: Level 3 Communications (LVLT), which operates thousands of miles of fiber optic networks throughout North America, said this afternoon it was asked on November 19th by Comcast (CMCSA), the nation’s biggest cable operator, to pay a recurring fee to Comcast every time one of Comcast’s subscribers requests content, such as movies, that are transmitted to Comcast’s network over the Internet via Level 3’s facilities.

Level 3 agreed to the fee in protest [...more at TFA]

Submission + - Fight aggressive auto-renewal billing practices?

RareButSeriousSideEf writes: Okay askslashdotters, can anyone advise me on the best strategy for fighting some questionable-to-unconscionable business practices at a hosting company?

The short version: If the credit card used to set up an auto-renewing, pay-in-advance service (like web hosting) is declined at renewal time, shouldn't the service simply be suspended?

The long version: I formerly used the hosting company 1and1 (aka 1&1) for a few dev sites. They have an intentionally difficult and burdensome cancellation process, as a few simple searches for "cancel 1and1" will attest. I tried unsuccessfully to cancel my packages with them a few times, but didn't really follow up agressively. I was annoyed to see the charges continue to appear on my credit card statement; their cancellation interface seemed broken, and their main interface offered no option to remove the credit card used to set up the account. Soon after, due to a stolen wallet, it happened that I had to cancel the credit card used to set up the account. (Others have deliberately cancelled cards just to get 1and1's charges to stop, but this wasn't the case with me.) I thought this would finally work, as their ToS clearly states that payment must be made in advance of the provision of services (see ToS here). I expected that if the card didn't go through, they would lock the account, end of story.

This turned out to be a wrong assumption. The card was declined at renewal time, but despite this, when I ignored their emails, they renewed the plans anyway & sent the fees to a *collection agency*. No kidding.

Subsequent correspondence has found them totally unwilling to resolve this amicably. The money is negligible to me, but they've angered me enough here that I want to go to the mat. I think I've successfully managed to cancel these plans now, but my specific questions on the matter are:

1) My position is that 1and1 had no authorization to renew these plans without pre-payment. Is this defensible? I know other hosts simply lock accounts, and that is what I expected them to do. I never requested credit from them.
2) Some of the charges were for hosting plans. Others were for domains. Do ICANN rules in any way forbid this kind of practice with regard to domain renewals?
3) Their ToS contains a class-action waiver; is this likely to be enforceable or not in such a case? (If not, I would love to help initiate.)
4) So far I've avoided all contact with the collection agency. Is there a good strategy for fighting collections for unauthorized services when the billing party refuses to acknowledge that they were unauthorized?

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"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982